Stephen Grove kicked off his 2019 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign with a fourth-place result in class in the opening round of the season at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain.
The all-Porsche series curtain raiser took place under sunny skies in the stunning Catalonia region, with a 14 lap race around the 4.6km, 16 turn Spanish venue.
A 1:51.631s lap time in qualifying was good enough to put Grove fifth in Pro-Am on the grid for Sunday’s Round 1 after improving on his Free Practice time by just under a second in Saturday’s qualifying.
As the five red lights went out, the field fanned out on the long run down to the first corner which saw Grove make up a position in the opening exchanges.
There was a brief Safety Car intervention before the race went back to green flag conditions for the sprint to the chequered flag.
Delivering consistent lap times until the finish, with his own fastest lap of the race coming on Lap 9, Grove was able to hold his nerve despite coming under intense pressure on the final lap from a Pro class competitor.
He held onto the position and crossed the line in a solid fourth place in Pro-Am, improving on his starting position.
Grove’s fourth in class was good enough for 23rd outright, a performance the Australian feels he can build on in the next few events.
Round 2 of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series takes place at the Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo from May 23-26, 2019.
STEPHEN GROVE QUOTEBOARD:
“We ran the tyre pressures low to get a good start and be able to push on early and try and make up as many positions as we could — and it worked. I was in a pretty close battle in the beginning with Philipp [Sager] and had a good run on him but then the Safety Car came out which meant the pressures dropped. From there I struggled a bit to get the temps back up; pushed as hard as I could and they got there towards the end so we had to try and consolidate as best we could. I had one of the Pro class drivers behind me on the last lap filling the mirrors and I didn’t want to let him by easily, so I defended under braking at Turn 10 and managed to keep in front of him in the final few corners.
“The goal is always to win, but you can never underestimate the level of competition in Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Fourth is a really good result here at a track I don’t have as many laps on as some of the other drivers. It gives me a decent haul of points; I was hoping to be around fifth in Pro-Am, so to get fourth in class is above my expectations for this round. I think we can build on the result and learn from the weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting back in the car in Monaco.”